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What’s next for fitness wearables?

There’s nothing new.

At IFA this year, we’ve seen devices, like Withings’ Move ECG and ASUS’ VivoWatch SP, that bring more ECGs to more people — technology that first appeared in mainstream wearables with Apple’s Watch Series 4. I’ve been thinking about the future of wearables, and it increasingly looks like we’re at the final frontier of what fitness wearables can do. Five years from the announcement of the first Apple Watch, and it looks like, soon, there’s not going to be much to distinguish one wearable from another.

The simplest way a wearable can track your activity is by using a gyroscope (or similar) to track the position of your hand in three-dimensional space. It can then, algorithmically, infer where your body is, and what it — and you — are doing, using what is essentially very smart guesswork. Pedometers that count your steps and know when you’ve broken into a run work on this principle, and to judge how many calories it thinks you’ve burned.

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